Title of Thesis: An Examination Of Dietary Practises Of Nigerian Women In Atlanta

Thesis Chair: Prof. Collins Airhihenbuwa

Background: Sociocultural and psychological factors influence dietary practices. Poor dietary practices are among the risk factors for non-communicable diseases. There is a disproportionate rate of non-communicable diseases in the United States and Nigeria, which are among the top countries with poor dietary practices globally. Nigerians are shifting from traditional meals, which are good sources of insoluble fibers, preventing certain non-communicable diseases, to Western and unprocessed foods. They are also replacing traditional spices with bouillon. 

Aims: This study (i) describes the type and frequency of commonly-consumed Nigerian foods, (ii) determines if the length of stay in the U.S influences the frequency of consuming common Nigerian foods, and (iii) examines whether health status informs the dietary practices of Nigerian women in metro Atlanta. 

Methods: This is an exploratory cross-sectional study using a semi-structured questionnaire administered as an online survey to obtain data on the frequency of consumption of common Nigerian foods among a convenient sample population of adult Nigerian women living in Atlanta. Other data obtained included sociodemographics, diabetes or hypertension diagnosis, and the combined use of salt and bouillon in meal preparation. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, and bivariate analysis of variables to determine association was conducted at a 5% level of significance.

Results: Rice is the most commonly consumed food by a high proportion (99.02%) of study participants, and this is irrespective of being diagnosed with diabetes. The length of stay of participants in the U.S did not significantly infer a difference in the frequency of consuming common Nigerian foods among this population. About 96% of this study population practice using the combination of salt and bouillon in meal preparation, and 43.14% of these women practice this habit daily. There is a statistically significant (p= 0.0008) relationship between diabetic status and the frequency of the combined use of salt and bouillon. In contrast, there was no statistical significance between hypertensive status and the combined use of salt and bouillon, but 36.67% of participants diagnosed with hypertension practice this habit daily.

Conclusion: This study shows that rice is the most common food eaten frequently by Nigerian women in Atlanta. There is no statistically significant association between the length of stay of these women in the U.S and the frequency with which they eat common Nigerian foods. Also, being diagnosed with diabetes or hypertension appears not to influence food choices and the frequency of food consumption of Nigerian women in Atlanta. Further research is needed for a larger sample size in this population with a comparative analysis on dietary practices of Nigerian women living in Nigeria.

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